Services for Trafficking Victims
Human trafficking is a widespread form of modern-day slavery. According to the Attorney General's Annual Report to Congress on U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Fiscal Year 2006, “ ....traffickers often prey on individuals, predominantly women and children in certain countries, who are poor, frequently unemployed or underemployed, and who may lack access to social safety nets. Victims are often lured with false promises of good jobs and better lives, and then forced to work under brutal and inhuman conditions. It is difficult to accurately estimate the extent of victimization in this crime whose perpetrators go to great lengths to keep it hidden. Nonetheless, the United States has led the world in the fight against this terrible crime.”
- Although the exact numbers are not known, the U.S. Department of State estimates that up to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), Pub. L. 106-386, was signed into law, enhancing three aspects of Federal Government activity to combat human trafficking: protection, prosecution, and prevention. The TVPA was reauthorized in 2003 and 2005. The victim-centered approach of the TVPA provides for new protections and assistance for victims of human trafficking and authorizes the Attorney General to make grants to provide services and support to victims of these crimes. Beginning in FY 2002, Congress has appropriated $10 million annually for the Department of Justice's Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Discretionary Grant Program. OVC made its first awards in 2003, and currently funds 30 comprehensive services projects and one specialized services grant. Comprehensive services may include the following:
- Shelter and sustenance
- Case management
- Medical, mental health, and dental care
- Crisis intervention
- Legal/immigration assistance
- Criminal justice system advocacy
- Job training
- English as a second language training
OVC services are intended to assist victims during “precertification,” a period of time that covers a victim's first contact with law enforcement and continues until he or she is certified to receive other benefits through the Department of Health and Human Services. A complete list of OVC-funded trafficking grantees and their areas of geographical service coverage is available.
Beginning in FY2004, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) within the Office of Justice Programs began funding anti-trafficking law enforcement task forces across the Nation that work closely with service providers, federal authorities, and other partners to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking. OVC 's 32 grantees work with BJA's 42 anti-trafficking task forces to ensure that rescued victims receive needed services and support to remain free of their traffickers and to build new lives either in the United States or back in their homeland, if they wish to be repatriated. (See attached map (pdf, 87 kb)).
BJA and OVC, under the auspices of the OVC Training and Technical Assistance Center, have established the framework, goals, and objectives for a federal working group that will inform both BJA and OVC efforts to provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to the anti-trafficking task forces across the Nation. Several agencies within DOJ, as well as relevant agencies from the Departments of State, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security have been invited to participate in the working group, which will meet monthly for 6 months beginning in October 2007.
During Fiscal Year 2007, OVC awarded supplemental funding in the amount of $3,404,273 to support the continuing activities of twelve comprehensive services grantees and one specialized services grantee who serve primarily pre-certified victims of human trafficking in the United States. With the additional funding, the specialized services grantee, Project Reach, will extend its current service provision area from the Eastern Seaboard and Texas to the entire United States. Project Reach, based in Brookline, MA, is a mobile crisis intervention team of trauma specialists who work with local service providers to address the psychological needs of trafficking survivors. Services include on-site psychological evaluations and brief intervention for survivors, as well as training and consultation to providers. There is no charge for these services. Geographical service provision areas remain the same for the comprehensive services grantees.
For Information on How to Assist Victims of Human Trafficking:
OVC has developed a 20-minute training DVD and accompanying CD of informational resources on human trafficking aimed primarily at established victim service providers who have little or no experience working with victims of human trafficking. The DVD, titled Responding to Victims of Human Trafficking: A Training Video for Victim Service Providers, will be available in early 2008. The DVD and Resource CD will be sent at no charge to individuals and organizations who request a copy from NCJRS (the National Criminal Justice Reference Service).